Let me first start off by saying that any type of cardio – slow, fast, long, short, easy, difficult – is better than nothing. For the longest time, most people have looked at long bouts of low-intensity cardio as the best way to get in shape and lose fat. While there is certainly nothing wrong with going out for a long run and enjoying the open road, it may be time to rethink what’s the best method for improving fitness or losing weight.
I found a great article here that highlights a Norwegian study that deal with higher intensity interval method of cardio training. The basics of the study are that they compared different time periods of high intensity training to see which work:rest ratio allowed subjects to work at a higher intensity for a longer time period. For this specific study, they found that 30 second intervals using a 2:1 work:rest ratio allowed subjects to reach maximal oxygen uptake. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this, generally speaking, the higher the intensity, the higher the oxygen uptake.
I won’t bore you with all of the scientific information from the study. The link is provided if you are interested in reading the article. The bottom line is this. For beginners, lower intensity might be appropriate until the body is adjusted to working out. For people who are more advanced, used to exercise, or training to get in better shape, higher intensity is the way to go. You can vary your time periods as far as work and rest go, but when it comes to seeing results, intensity if the name of the game, and the higher the better.